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Seniors face complicated Medicare choices

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For seniors planning to make changes to their Medicare plans during this year’s enrollment period (Nov. 15 through the end of the year), it may make sense to begin reviewing options now. Seniors with Medicare Part A or B will be allowed to choose from several dozen plans, each of which covers different drugs and offers different premium, deductible and copayment costs. Choosing a plan that covers all of a senior’s prescriptions for the lowest cost requires that the best plan be chosen.

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there will be an average of 33 plans per state to choose from. And, because plans change each year, the plan a senior had this year may be changing for 2011, dropping some drug options or raising some costs. Kaiser estimates the average plan premium will increase by 10 percent, or $40.72 per month.

In addition to cost, seniors need to consider the rules imposed by the plans for acquiring prescribed drugs. Some plans may require preapproval by a beneficiary or physician before a drug will be covered. “Step therapy” requires a beneficiary who has been prescribed an expensive drug to try cheaper drugs first. Furthermore, some plans may limit the quantity of a drug it will cover, with the rest being paid for by the senior.

The confusing choices facing seniors this year require that plans be carefully researched and compared.


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